Our Future | Beach culture a casualty of climate change

Beaches are important for most Australians. Not only are they an escape for many during the summer, but they’re also the heart of our nation’s tourism industry.

Our country has more beaches than anywhere in the world and roughly 85 per cent of Aussies live within 50 kilometres of the coast, so what will happen to our wonderful beach lifestyle when the climate warms and sea levels rise?

With rising seas beaches and foreshores could be lost, and without beaches to attract tourists, local surf clubs and restaurants may lose their primary source of income.

In some areas houses could be flooded frequently and others undermined through beach erosion, leaving residents to either re-locate or cough up huge financial costs.

Ecosystems will also be impacted as creatures and environments struggle to cope with changing tides and warmer waters.

The impacts are known so well, yet there continues to be development in inappropriate areas, putting homes, lives and businesses at risk.

Some councils and governments are starting to assess the impacts climate change may have, but others have not even considered the risks. 

So now, it’s up to businesses, industry, and communities to get the ball rolling.

Raising this issue at work, council meetings or creating awareness groups are great ways to inspire action.

There are many resources that can help you learn more and get started. The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility’s (NCCARF) CoastAdapt provides information about climate change on the coast and how we can respond.

But unless we begin to seriously address the risks of climate change, our coastal and beach lifestyle may change forever. 

Dr David Rissik is an adjunct Professor with National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).